Caring for a Child with Cerebral Palsy:10 Tips to Get You Started

Caring for a child with cerebral palsy can be a daunting task, but there are many ways to help your child live a full and healthy life. Muscle training and exercises can help your child build strength, flexibility, balance, motor development and mobility. To get you started, here are 10 tips for caring for a child with cerebral palsy. First, stay informed about your child's health.

Your child will likely see a variety of health care providers, from their pediatrician to their specialist to their therapist and more. While doctors monitor their patients, it's important that you, too, stay informed about your child's health. There may be times when you are asked to make health decisions for your child, such as participating in different types of therapy and treatment, so it's crucial to stay informed. Second, engage in activities that promote learning and development.

Board games are fun activities that encourage children to count, strategize, and take risks. Singing is processed by a different part of the brain than speech and, with enough practice, can help your child improve tone, articulation, and flow. New experiences can also help boost your child's self-esteem - whether it's going to a new museum, working together on a craft project, or seeing a play. Third, seek out resources that can help you care for your child.

Ask your pediatrician for a referral or visit the Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center directory for state-specific contact information. Caring for a child with cerebral palsy involves a lot of moving parts, so organization is one of the most important steps you can take. There are also plenty of resources available to help you care for your child - many of which are free. Fourth, understand the treatment options available for your child.

Cerebral palsy symptoms can be managed through a variety of treatment options, depending on your child's diagnosis. Most of the time, your child just has to learn how to adjust the activity to suit their functional abilities. Activity-based therapies are very effective for children because they keep them busy, distracted and practicing the repetitions they need to improve their motor functions. Fifth, allow your child to participate in activities that all other children are doing.

By allowing children with cerebral palsy the freedom to participate in the activities that all other children are doing, they won't feel so different and will naturally develop new skills and abilities. Sixth, provide therapy at home if possible. Children with cerebral palsy spend time with their therapist, but therapy can continue at home if you know the right way to help your child exercise. Seventh, watch out for acid reflux.

Acid reflux is a common problem in children with cerebral palsy and, if left untreated, can cause complications such as pneumonia or esophagitis. Eighth, maintain a healthy weight if possible. Many children with cerebral palsy struggle to maintain a healthy weight because it is difficult for them to chew or swallow food. Ninth, consider alternative nutrition options if necessary.

Some children with cerebral palsy can't eat by mouth, so they will have an intestinal glucometer in their stomach for nutrition. Finally, stay positive! Life is stressful but it's important to stay positive whenever you can as your attitude can influence your child's mood.